Creating family friendly routines: stay flexible, stay sane.

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This week I’m talking about keeping our sanity and our smiles by creating family friendly routines.  This is easier said than done in the face of play groups, extra curricular activities, sports, clubs, family events, church, school, and all of the other things that can be competing for a family’s squares on the calendar.

I am a mama who likes to have a general rhythm to her week  and her days, as I believe it helps both myself and the kids to have anchor points.  Planned activities break up the potential tedium of life with small children with something fun and it allows me to go on “auto pilot” each week. However, even a routine planned out with the best of intentions can cause problems if it is too rigid.

One of the key things I’ve learned about family rhythm and routines is to stay flexible and allow yourself to make changes if things aren’t working.  This one is tough for me sometimes because I can get so mentally married to my pretty schedule and color coded system that it is hard to let go of it, even when part (or all) of it just isn’t working.

Perhaps the day of the week you chose for crafting with your kids is creating stressful afternoons because there isn’t enough time to devote to a project between nap time and dinner preparations (not that I’ve totally made that mistake or anything).  Or maybe you’ve discovered that your regular library day coincides with preschool story time and the kid section is packed, which is a completely overwhelming situation for your toddler.

By staying flexible you can play around with your schedule until you find a day and a time that are a better fit.  Or, you might even find that dropping the activity altogether is the best thing for everyone.  It doesn’t mean you are saying no to that forever, it just means that right now you’re letting it go.

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Creating family friendly routines: keep it simple and be selective.

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January is the time for new calendars, fresh starts, and for many of us the new year is when we revamp our family routines.  But I have found that adding new elements to an established routine or altering schedules when life situations change can be a bit of a juggling act.

This week I’m going to talk about some things I have found it helpful to keep in mind when creating routines and establishing a rhythm in our home.

Normally on Simple Kids I try to write things that I think will be helpful to my readers, but I admit this time I’m writing these as much as a reminder to myself.

Our family’s rhythm and routines are changing a bit as the kids get older.  For one thing, we have more commitments outside of the home and for another, my youngest is a toddler now so our days aren’t the same as they were during the seven years or so when we always had a baby in the house.

Plus, between illness, extreme weather, and some schedule and household changes I’m finding myself in a bit of a transition stage and not the  calm groove I was hoping to kick off the new year with.  Maybe some of you can relate?

So, here are a few reminders for us all about keeping our lives simple and being selective about what we add to our day planners.

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We read it: May B. (a giveaway)

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I‘m excited today to share one of our favorite reads for middle grades and up today:  May B. is a novel written by Caroline Starr Rose, about a young pioneer girl on the Kansas prairie.

Written in verse, this is a beautiful, touching book that my daughter and I found so compelling we read it together in one long afternoon, passing it back and forth on the sofa, eager to see May’s adventures to their conclusion.

We read it aloud to each other that day, but Jillian has since read May B. more than once on her own again.  We both agree that this is a special book and we think you’ll want it to make a home on your bookshelves, too.

I’ll let Jillian review it for you in her own words here:

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The Wisdom of Wonder

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We’re still digging out from under our most recent snow storm, so I’m sharing some of my favorite posts from the SK archives.  Today’s post was written by Lisa Boisvert MacKenzie of  The Wonder of Childhood. – Kara

A little child looks up at the sky and asks, “Mama, why is the sky blue?” Mama responds “hmmn…. I wonder.”

There is a pause. The child gets quiet and turns inward. Silence. The child looks up with a knowing smile, “I know, the sky is a blanket for the earth, to tuck it in at night and keep it cozy,” to which to mother nods.

Another child asks his dad, “Why do birds sing?” The dad pauses and responds, “Gee, I wonder…” He waits. The child muses on it for a few moments and comes up with an answer, “I know, it’s their way of talking to each other.”

Children come to understanding through wonder. Curiosity, inquisition, engagement and enthusiasm flow out of wonder and in turn inspire more wonder and understanding. It is this spirit of inquiry that leads to wisdom, the ability to ask a question, hold the question and wait for the answer to come, which leads to more wondering, more enthusiasm and curiosity, a rich and juicy life, full of wonder, awe and wisdom.

“Wisdom begins in wonder.” Socrates

The child is born with a sense of wonder.

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Ages and Stages: Preschoolers

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The preschool years are such a fun age.  This is a time when your child’s personality will really start to shine. Preschoolers are naturally curious and interested in the world, and the people, around them.  This is the age of imagination and pretend play, making friends, and new discoveries.

It is pretty wonderful to see your child’s individuality come out and to see them grow and change during these years.  It seems I say this with every stage, but the preschool years are some of the most enjoyable, in my opinion.

While all of the potential turbulence of the toddler years isn’t quite behind them, this age is generally a more mellow age as children begin to understand and employ a bit more patience, kindness, and empathy with others.

All of the bumps aren’t out of the road, and some kids do seem to have a more challenging time than their peers.  However, while there are still strong emotions, most parents note less escalation into the temper tantrums or the physical lashing out of the toddler years.

Preschoolers are very expressive, one of my favorite things about this age, to be honest.  Not much beats the enthusiasm of a preschooler when they are happy or excited about something.

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